John Vita's twin interests in the financial services business and in helping those less fortunate than himself began at an early age.
Vita's father Robert was a Merrill Lynch broker for 40 years, and Vita recalls that as a boy, he loved going to his father's office and playing with the ticker and the Quotron machine. He was also involved in community service projects as an active member of the local Kiwanis Club, a global aid organization that helps children.
Today he is an advisor to the Manatee High School Key Club (a youth organization sponsored by Kiwanis International), a coach and administrator for the Manatee Wildcats local youth football league, and he also serves on the board of directors of the Manatee Family YMCA and chairs its programs committee.
At the Key Club, Vita is particularly proud of his work with high school students in their CHOW NOW campaign. (Children Hungry On Weekends - Not On Our Watch). The students fill backpacks with food during the week and on Fridays leave them at schools where poor children aren't getting enough to eat on the weekend.
Vita isn't afraid to get his hands dirty, either. For Christmas, the Key Club decided to do an “extreme home makeover” of a house in a rough Bradenton neighborhood that was not only falling apart, but riddled with bullet holes from drive-by gang shootings. Vita helped the club find a contractor and raised $80,000 for repairs. Then over Christmas break, he and the students rolled up their sleeves and helped put on a new roof and install new floors, appliances, plumbing and electricity.
At the Y, Vita is working as a mentor and advocate in the gang prevention program. “Children are being recruited into gangs as early as fourth and fifth grade, so it's important to reach them at a young age,” he says. He takes first, second and third graders out on his boat and to play flag football at Disney World. “It's great for them to see there is something else out there than being in a gang, and hopefully they'll make the right choice when the time comes,” he says.
As Byron Shinn, a Bradenton accountant who has known Vita for 25 years put it: “There's no lazy in John. He's one of the most active people in the community, and the most generous. The more the need, the more he cares.”See all of Registered Rep.'s Altruism Award Winners" class="old-inline-image">
Firm: The Bassett, Vita, Vining, Hermann Group at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney
City: Bradenton, Fla.
Years as a rep: 22
Years with current firm: 3
AUM: $500 million
Product mix: managed accounts 80%; mutual funds 10%; stocks and bonds 10%
Specialty: Retirement income planning
Designations, licenses: Life and Health Insurance; Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor; Series 7, 63, 6